Three-storylines-Philly

VANCOUVER, B.C – It’s early days, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC are floundering near the bottom of the MLS basement. Vancouver is 0-3-0 on the campaign after suffering a 3-2 defeat to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Caps just aren’t clicking like a fine tuned MLS machine. Passing is just out of sync, the defence has made costly errors, and Whitecaps FC have given up a penalty in each match this season. Whitecaps FC haven’t found a formula for success yet.

While fans might be eager to push the proverbial panic button, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos isn’t bothered, frustration hasn’t settled in over his team.

“No, I’m not.” Dos Santos said, when asked about frustration setting in. “I think they’re professionals. I think we’re living something many teams in the league are living. There’s nine teams in MLS that are between zero and two points. When you’re a professional player, what you have to do is try to find solutions, and we’re all in this together, and we’re going to find solutions.”

Without a solid first team MLS left-back available, Whitecaps FC started the first half against Houston in a 3-5-2 formation. While wing-backs Scott Sutter, and PC were able to get back and help out Erik Godoy, Doneil Henry, and Derek Cornelius early on. It wasn’t long until Memo Rodriguez scored his first of two goals on the day.

“We want to normally play with a back-four,” Dos Santos admitted. “But with the challenges we’ve had in the left side. In going to Houston and knowing (Alberth) Elis, and (Romell) Quioto are dangerous in the one v one situations out wide, we tried to work on a back-five where you would always complement the centre-back with another full-back.”

Vancouver was able to fight back and square the match at 1-1 and later 2-2, but in the end, it was the Alberth Elis show.

Whitecaps FC’s blunders at the back, aren’t a microcosm of not understanding Dos Santos complex ball oriented, fast paced, sound defensive positional approach. It’s down to decision-making, and learning how to improve on those questionable made decisions.

“I think the understanding was there,” Dos Santos explained to Har Journalist. “It was more our individual decision-making that could have been better. I don’t think that it’s a lack of understanding, I think it’s more us in our decision-making.”

“We’re pissed, we’re pissed because we feel we deserve more,” Dos Santos said. “This is good that we all feel like that. Our frustration, I think it’s a good frustration.”

When you look at the other end of the pitch, the offence is still a work in progress. Fredy Montero was able to convert a first half penalty for his first goal of the season. Montero led Vancouver with 13 goals scored during the 2017 campaign. He is looking to find the same familiarity and flare that helped him during his first season with Vancouver.

Chemistry, and intuition between Montero, Yordy Reyna, and Hwang In-Beom has not yet materialized. We’ve seen glimpses of what the trio could become, but nothing on a consistent basis that shows they’re ready to carry Whitecaps FC.

There were moments of hands on the hips, and hands in the air. You could see the frustration of not being able to link up when Vancouver gained possession, and looked to advance forward.

“Hands in the air, the hip, we were dancing,” Montero joked. “It’s more about having that last pass perfectly where I can give the ball to Yordy (Reyna) and he can be in a position to score a goal. Once again, we’re not frustrated, we’re disappointed obviously, in the way that we lost the game.”

“They have to learn the way that I play,” Montero said. “At the same time I am learning from them. I’m trying to give the ball where they are dangerous. We don’t have big bodies into the box, but we can be dangerous one on one. We need to use that strength more.”

The 32-year-old Sutter earned his first start with Whitecaps FC as he came in for Jake Nerwinski. The sky is not falling, the end is not near, it’s just the ‘Madness of March’ – At the minute, Whitecaps FC are a united, and panic free squad.

“We’re disappointed, we’re not frustrated,” Sutter explained the difference. “We’re not in a situational crisis by any means, we don’t look at it like that. We’re just obviously disappointed that we haven’t got the start that I think we wanted or deserve, really. There’s no real use in complaining about it. We’re looking forward to the next game.”

You can’t win an MLS Championship in the first month and you can’t lock down a playoff spot, but you can set the tone, build momentum, and set a foundation for the season. Whitecaps FC have all the tools, technicians,  and talent. It’s now down to using the international break to re-group and prepare for the next match vs the top team in MLS.

A Cascadia clash awaits Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they host Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, March 30 at B.C. Place. It’s bound to be a cracker as Seattle is a perfect 3-0-0.

Whitecaps FC’s Fredy Montero knows how important this derby match will be.

“It’s a must win game.”

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